COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine increase on Sunday

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine increased by nine on Sunday, to 291 patients, but that’s still 33 percent lower than the pandemic high set one month ago.

Of those currently in the hospital, 67 are in critical care and 30 are on ventilators, according to data tracked by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of critical care patients is roughly half the record set on Dec. 19.

Hospitalizations are trending steadily downward across the country as well. According to the U.S. CDC, the seven-day daily average of 91,650 patients is down 37 percent from the omicron peak of 146,634 set on Jan. 20. The current average is still near the peak of the Delta surge in early September.

Maine health officials do not provide case updates on Sundays, but daily case counts are longer an accurate representation of current transmission because of a backlog and because of the increased number of home tests. Other metrics, however, are showing a steep decline in the number of new cases.

Over the last seven days, the Maine CDC has received an average of 731 positive tests each day. Not all of those will be considered new cases because there are sometimes duplicates, but that’s less than one third the daily average this time last month.

Cases across the United States have fallen precipitously as well and are now averaging about 175,000 per day, which is about what the country was seeing in mid-December before the omicron wave took hold. That’s still a higher average than almost any other point of the pandemic, but the trend is positive.

Deaths, meanwhile, have yet to come down significantly and are still averaging more than 2,200 every day. Since the pandemic began, at least 915,425 people have died with COVID-19, including 1,828 Maine residents.

Maine’s rate of death – 135 per 100,000 people – is the fourth lowest of any state and less than half the national rate of 275 per 100,000 people. Mississippi has the highest rate, 388 deaths per 100,000. If Maine’s rate were that high, there would be 5,200 deaths here.

As for vaccinations, the rate has slowed considerably in 2022, but the state is still administering between 1,500 and 2,000 doses each day. Overall, 982,468 individuals have gotten both doses of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson version. That’s 73.1 percent of all residents. Additionally, 570,319, or 42.4 percent, have gotten booster doses.

Still, there remain big gaps in vaccinations between rural inland counties and southern and coastal counties. Research has been clear that the risk of hospitalization or death is significantly greater for individuals who have not been vaccinated.

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